A Bengali man who came to Singapore for medical treatment has been jailed eight months for molesting a chambermaid while she was performing her duties in his hotel room.
Masud Muhammad Ataul, 66, was sentenced at the State Courts on Thursday (19 October) after having earlier pleaded guilty to one count of molesting the 31-year-old woman. The woman’s name cannot be disclosed due to a gag order.
The offence took place on the morning 21 May this year, when the chambermaid visited Masud’s room to carry out her cleaning duties. Masud and his wife were in the room at the time, although the latter left a few minutes later – leaving Masud and the chambermaid in the room.
While the chambermaid was cleaning the room’s toilet, Masud approached her and attempted to start a conversation. The victim told Masud that she was from China and could not comprehend what he was trying to say.
Masud then gestured for the chambermaid to kiss him by tapping on his cheek. Thinking that this was a cultural norm, the woman tapped against Masud’s cheek with her own. As the woman brought her cheek towards Masud’s face, he grabbed the woman’s right breast. She then stepped back and pushed Masud away.
Masud then grabbed his penis over his clothes and the woman turned away in fear. She resumed cleaning the toilet and Masud left several minutes later. According to the prosecution, the woman had been reluctant to antagonise Masud as he was a hotel guest and it was her first job as a chambermaid.
The woman later confided in her supervisor about the incident, which led to a police report being filed later that afternoon.
Masud’s lawyer Ismail Hamid said that his client had acted on the “spur of the moment”, adding that he did not threaten the woman “prior, during or after the molest” and that he had not taken any further action after she pulled away.
“Moreover, the right hand of our client did not come into contact with the flesh of the complainant. What he grabbed was the part of her clothes that covered her breast,” said Ismail.
The lawyer also pointed to the fact that Masud was still suffering the “ill effects” of a motor accident he had experienced in Dhaka in 2014, which had left him with “lapses of memory”.
Ismail also submitted that Masud had incurred “huge expenses” since being detained in Singapore and was left in despair while “awaiting incarceration in a foreign and distant land”.
“A sadder and a wiser man, he rose the morrow morn. He (Masud) extends his apologies to the complainant,” said Ismail, referencing Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”.
District Judge Jasvender Kaur took a stern view of Masud’s actions, however. “You were the hotel guest. As such you had a position of authority. You took advantage of the victim when she was in hotel room working while she was vulnerable and alone,” she said.
Masud could have been sentenced to a jail term of up to two years and/or a fine.
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